Article

Meet our first ever volunteer of the year 2020:
Barbara Cammarata

What a year 2020 was—a year that tested the meaning of community, unity and compassion towards one another. The COVID-19 pandemic in particular presented all of us with unprecedented challenges and will leave a lasting impact. An employee who understands the impact her time and talents can have on her community is Senior Director of Legal for Roche Molecular Systems, Inc. Barbara Cammarata and the 2020 Roche Volunteer of the Year. Barbara selflessly gave 450+ hours of her time and talents in 2020 as a board member for three separate non-profit organizations.

 

She attributes this impressive feat to the extra time the pandemic allowed for, along with the significant support of her flexible, patient family and the Roche Legal team. She’s especially grateful for the commitment of Roche Legal leadership to pro bono work.

The main organization Barbara spent an impressive 350+ hours volunteering for is the Harvard Club of Washington D.C. The club is an alumni organization whose mission is to provide cultural, educational, social and networking events for members as well as giving back to the community through local volunteer work. 

As Vice-President of Membership, she administered memberships, helped new members join and managed the member database. When COVID-19 arrived last year and the club’s revenue-generating events came to an abrupt stop, the organization suddenly became dependent on membership dues as the main source of revenue. Her role then switched to coming up with creative ways to retain and gain new members in a virtual landscape through online events, surveys and other membership-focused content. 

Roche volunteer of the year Barbara Cammarata

Barbara used her experience working remotely to help the Harvard Club pivot into virtual mode and mentioned that “The hardest part when working remotely is keeping things interesting. At the beginning of the Club’s shift to virtual events there was a learning curve in utilizing all the features of the video conferencing software and making things more interactive for members so that they were willing to come to our events after a long day of Zooming at work.” They created special member-only virtual events and a media library where members could access exclusive recorded speaker events on-demand. One of Barbara’s favorite moments from last year came from one of these COVID-inspired virtual events where Sheryl Sandberg, the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook and founder of the non-profit LeanIn, spoke to members and answered student-member questions, which happily resulted in a big uptick in alum joining the organization.

“Start small and see where you get. Everyone can’t always volunteer at every point in their life.  If you can’t volunteer, consider donating instead. Charities need your financial support as much as they need your time. Either way, definitely consider giving back to your community.”

Barbara Cammarata Volunteer of the Year

Barbara is also on the board of the Emma Jordon Kidz Fighting Cancer Foundation, an organization she has a personal connection with and helped form after a close friend’s daughter passed away from childhood kidney cancer. The family wanted to start a foundation to honor Emma Jordon and help other families experiencing pediatric cancer. Using her experience doing tax-exempt hospital work and corporate law, she helped incorporate and gain tax-exempt status for the organization. For over 10 years the organization has spread awareness about pediatric cancer and raised money for clinical research and for other charitable organizations that help military families going through treatment. 

As a board member Barbara spent her time answering questions and maintaining paperwork related to corporate governance, along with researching and meeting reporting and documentation requirements under privacy and charitable regulations that apply to small nonprofits. When not performing legal and administrative tasks, she helped organize outreach events at schools and other charitable-giving events to raise money for the Foundation.

On a personal level, Barbara is involved with her children’s high school’s Parent Teacher Student Organization (PTSO) and Athletic Booster Club, where she volunteers regularly, including serving as Chair of Fundraisers and Events.She’s involved in planning academic awards ceremonies, fundraisers and events related to graduation. 

“When you volunteer you have an understanding that what you’re doing is worthwhile and you’re helping people you don’t necessarily have to help. That’s one of the best reasons to volunteer, because it makes you feel good about yourself and gives you the chance to learn new things and meet new people.” 

Barbara began her legal career in California but moved around the country due to her husband’s Naval career and was working at a law firm in Washington, D.C. when she first began to serve as outside counsel for Roche. When she was brought in-house, her family and husband were already established in Washington D.C. and through Roche’s legal management she was given the opportunity to work remotely. “For me the joys of it (remote work) are what everyone’s discovered. It’s easier and everyone is in a better mood when you’re not constantly rushing around or spending excessive time and energy commuting.” said Barbara.

When asked what message she would like to share with others about volunteering in their community, Barbara advised, “Start small and see where you get. Everyone can’t always volunteer at every point in their life.  If you can’t volunteer, consider donating instead. Charities need your financial support as much as they need your time. Either way, definitely consider giving back to your community.” 

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